While on an extensive tour throughout the United States, we caught up with Nothing More's Jonny Hawkins (vocals) and Daniel Oliver (bass) to find out what their band was all about and just what we can expect. We knew these guys were deep thinkers but we weren't expecting such in-depth, thought-provoking answers. Try and wrap your brain around this!
Q&A: Jonny Hawkins and Daniel Oliver from Nothing More
The Statestide alt-proggers answer some quickfire questions in outstanding fashion
How would you guys describe your music?
Jonny: "The most rapturing, musical experiences I’ve ever had were the ones in which I had less labels filling my mind… not more. Although categorising things can be useful for practical purposes, it can be a hindrance to a genuine, awe-filled, musical experience.
"Imagine that you are watching a scary movie in the dark by yourself and have no idea what the monster/villain looks like yet. In this environment the movie has a potent ability to elicit fear in you. Now imagine just the opposite, watching that same movie in daylight with other people around and imagine that you already know what the monster looks like… it’s obviously not as scary. The amount of fear we feel in either situation is directly proportional to how suspended we are in an ambiguous state of mind. When we are in this unsettled mind set we are unable to draw any concrete mental images about what it is we think we are perceiving in the dark, and as a result that mystery facilitates a heightened sense in the viewer and fuels our imagination. This is probably why most creative people I’ve met are night-owls, I don’t know. But I do know that the power of the unknown is a strong force, so much that it is often more dreadful than a known threat… a psychological reality that many directors make use of.
"I’ve noticed the same is true with music, except that the heightened sense we feel does not manifest into fear but awe. It is interesting to see that our language reflects this common denominator with such bipolar words as 'Terrible' and 'Terrific', 'Aweful' and 'Awesome'. These words have the same root but are polar experiences of each other… like twins born of the same mother. Another interesting example of this principle is when you observe how prophets in the Bible reacted to what they described as 'Divine' experiences. More times than not, these 'Divine' experiences translate to the English word 'Fear'… being raptured in awe and/or fear for something greater than you can be is an incredibly transformative experience. I had this experience when I went to my first concert as a seven year old with my dad, and it inevitably led me to where I am today.
So, my reluctance to describe what our music sounds like is not an attempt at intellectual masturbation, nor am I trying to be a cop-out, I just genuinely would prefer to have people listen to it for what it is and draw their own judgements. Anything I would say about our music would colour it with subjectivity and instigate preconceived judgements about it."
How did you all get together?
Jonny: "I’ve read that Eskimos have several words for snow while the Aztecs had only one word for snow-rain-hail combined. The languages clearly reflect the unique qualities of each culture’s experiences geographically. If I had to use a word in English to describe the experience I felt when I met these guys in the 7th grade, I think that word would be 'Confirmation'. I’ve known that I wanted to dedicate my life to music ever since that concert I attended when I was seven years old. That experience inspired me to trust my subconscious and it has led me to the right place every time, including this group of individuals. Most of the pivotal moments in my life were compassed by this undeniable gut-feeling. This sensation usually swells over the period of a few weeks or so and at some point reaches a boiling point becoming clear which direction I need to go. The guys and I call this feeling 'Confirmation'. Once we got to the point where we could actually tour (my last year of high school) we all had this 'Confirmation'. We knew that we had to deny the path that led to college and other typical, suburban destinations, so we hit the road playing music. For each year of touring we decided to burn a scar into our right arm using the back end of a knife that was heated over a hot stove. We did this as a contract with each other, that we would never give up no matter how difficult it may become. This is a symbol for what we based this band on, the idea that every scar is a bridge to someone else’s heart.
What are some of your biggest influences?
Jonny: "Alan Watts, Sam Harris, C.S. Lewis, Dustin Kensrue, Eckharte Tolle... among others."
What is a Nothing More live show like?
Daniel: "Our live show is like one of those speed dating get togethers that you see on TV. We want the audience to see the moving elements of the band and be able to spend a moment with each member. We obviously don’t tell the audience about our hobbies or favourite movies, but who we are as humans and what we feel as the music courses through us. In that spirit we have crafted a visual and musical feedback loop with the audience. So when you see us assembling and controlling a spinning machine with on one of our instruments mounted to it you can be certain that, yes, we do like long walks on the beach."
What's the plan for the rest of 2014?
Jonny: "We are excited to continue this journey, meet new people, ask new questions, absorb new perspectives, and challenge old modes of thinking. I think this quote from one of our biggest influences, Alan Watts, sums up how we feel about this next year, as well as the rest of our career… 'When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.'"
Nothing More are currently touring the US with Chevelle. Check out dates here. Then hit up Download Festival on 14 June.